Allegra Krieger lives her life in seasons.
Fresh off of what she described as a “sort of tour” through California for her latest album, Precious Thing, Krieger entered a period of rest and slow living in Vermont.
Having just quit her job and sublet her apartment, the singer and multi-instrumentalist planned to begin what she refers to as a season of taking information in – a natural transition from her previous season of creation.
Precious Thing, a 32-minute record of equally catchy and transcendent folk songs, was released on March 4 via Northern Spy. It was her third project following 2020’s The Joys of Forgetting and her 2018 EP, july 123.
The album’s ten tracks are held firmly by acoustic guitar passages upon which lap steel, organs and synthesizers mix for an ethereal, hovering sound. The musical foundation provides a soft and changing space that surrounds Krieger’s twinkling vocals, which glow steady and clear at the project’s center.
Precious Thing was recorded after a one-week road trip to California in October 2020, Krieger told Ears to Feed in a Zoom interview in September. It was, however, written in a period of months in New York City, where she currently lives.
As discernible from the song’s final state, they each started with guitar and vocals and grew in instrumentation as collaborators joined the project.
Krieger said the week of rapid creation and collaboration relieved “a difficult” period in her life. It was, she said, the first time in a while that she felt as though she was really laughing, having fun and experimenting with sound.
The album art for Precious Thing is a photograph of Krieger herself as a child, being thrown up into the sky by her father. She is frozen in the air, shedding beads of water and her face is endowed with an expression of excitement and fear.
“It’s like that feeling of, ‘I’ve never been this high in my life, this is crazy,’ ” she said about the photo. “It’s really scary but you’re also having so much fun.”
Joy shines through the album’s songs as many are just as tuneful as they are elegant.
The lyrics are also well balanced: brief, yet visually invoking.
Much of them focus on routine. On the opening track “Wake Me if I’m Asleep,” Krieger laments on the beauty of everyday existence and repetition while her acoustic riffs swell into a solid intro, avoiding unresolved tension.
Even in moments when the record introduces more tumult, like in “The Circumstance,” the lyrics ground themselves back in the mundanity of specific moments, like making breakfast with your partner in the morning.
Krieger said lyrical moments like these were made possible through the steadiness of her life at the time of writing. It allowed her to dial in and focus on the simultaneous mundanity and beauty of everyday routines.
“You go through points of life where you’re either a farmer or a sailor,” she said, discussing a metaphor laid out in Genius of Place, a biography of landscape architect and activist Frederick Law Olmstead.
“I feel like when you’re farming, you’re sort of cultivating and growing something in one place, and whenever you’re sailing, you’re moving around and discovering new things, new feelings.”
While writing Precious Thing, Krieger was a farmer.
Her method of staying in one place while cultivating relationships and community certainly contributes to the project’s warmness as well as its relaxed tempo free of any cheap or frivolous melancholy.
The record depends on these slow moments of safety to cope with the isolation that comes alongside a world, or a city, that is constantly morphing.
New York City’s propulsiveness, however, is infused in the songs as much as it was in their construction.
“I love walking out my door and then you’re just in the thick of it,” she said.
And although she prefers to be alone while writing, Krieger said “community is everything in music,” pointing to Brooklyn’s Owl Music Parlor as the venue that consistently opened its stage to her.
Community is important to Krieger. She has lived in Pennsylvania, Florida, Death Valley, Andalucía and the Blue Ridge Mountains before eventually landing in New York City.
Her early experiences with communities were largely religious. Her mother worked with a children’s choir.
Krieger conveys her Catholic upbringing directly in Precious Thing, particularly when portraying the gradual waning of faith.
“I Drank Wine,” centers on the religious trauma of the alcoholic drink. “Isolation,” yearns to “detach from the idea of being one of God’s daughters.”
Writing music has kept Krieger level in the wake of turbulent life experiences, providing her with a creative anchor.
“A huge reason why people adhere to religion is because human nature wants to be a part of something, to find something to be in alignment with,” she said.
Ultimately, Krieger said, the untethered transience of recording and touring can’t last forever. If there’s one thing she’d like listeners can take away from Precious Thing, it’s that the slow seasons of steady cultivation are just as important.
“And,” she said with a self-assured smile, “I know it all eventually circles back around.”
In the meantime, she dismissed herself to go play laser tag.